Last night's news began with the outpouring of unrestrained wailing in response to the death of the "dear leader" of North Korea, a replay of the mournful voice, choked with tears announcing his death on North Korean television, and then commentary by a South Korean journalist and an Israeli academic who specializes on Korea. They speculated about how much of the pathos was genuine, how much the result of six decades brainwashing, and how much a performance by individuals who were concerned that observers would see them doing anything less than what was expected.
Then there was coverage of the first anniversary of the forest fire on the Carmel. The fire lasted for four days, caused the evacuation of 17,000 residents, and resulted in 44 deaths. Most of those were prison guards trapped by the fire along a narrow mountain road after being ordered to evacuate the prison, and others involved in fire fighting along the same stretch of road.
Mourners had disrupted the 30 day commemoration of the disaster with loud accusations of who they thought was responsible.
Since then individuals from among the families, as well as individuals in the government have worked to lessen the tensions. Yesterdays ceremony was near the site of the bus disaster, now with a memorial carrying the names of those who died. Some families made a point of not coming, and some expressed their continued anger, but the mood was restrained.
The issue of responsibility will get another hearing shortly with the release of a special report by the State Comptroller. Ministers concerned with fire fighting and finance, as well as the prime minister came under attack for not doing enough to provide money, personnel and equipment; authorities in charge of fire brigades and the organization of fire fighters for having rejected proposals that did not meet their demands or egos; and low level personnel for allowing the bus carrying prison personnel and other vehicles to continue along a narrow road that became engulfed with flames. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Carmel_forest_fire_(2010)
The fire caught Israel without sufficient equipment and personnel. Especially lacking were planes capable of dumping water or flame retardants on the blaze. Aid was sought, offered, or provided from Greece, Turkey, Netherlands, Switzerland, Cyprus, Russia, Great Britain, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Jordan, Norway, Romania, and Spain.
The Prime Minister was prominent in recruiting support, especially in renting a 747 from the United States equipped to dump huge amounts of water. Netanyahu had himself photographed watching the plane dump its water, and later inspecting the plane and its crew at the international airport. Since then, he has used the image of the supertanker to express the extent of his commitments to deal with major issues. He would invoke a supertanker approach to a housing shortage, committing himself to the large scale construction of affordable homes. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/142803
Since that comment there have been numerous items about the pitfalls along the way to housing termed "affordable."
Not only did that plane make a big splash over the Carmel, but it was irresistible for the Prime Minister's critics. They focused on the expense of its rental, the time required to bring the plane from the United States, and the long time between sorties required to refill its tanks. Better would be smaller planes that could fill themselves while skimming over the sea, flying close to the ground, and dumping load after load on the fire.
Initial news in advance of the ceremony was that the Prime Minister did not want to attend out of concern that it would be like the 30 day commemoration. He would be occupied by other matters. However, he was persuaded that it was something he could not avoid.
What attracted the most attention about the anniversary was the introduction of the prime minister. Doing the job was an announcer for Israel Radio with an especially distinguished voice and manner, who is often enlisted to host ceremonies put on by government agencies, universities, and other public bodies. Coming immediately after the scenes of wailing, screaming, and other grand expressions at the death of North Korea's dear leader, we heard this man intone
The memorial site was created at the initiative of Prime Minister Mr Benyamin Netanyahu. The memorial was approved and created by the government and the man who stands at its head, Mr Benyamin Netanyahu. I want to invite to the podium the man who was the first to recognize the extent of the disaster, who brought help from throughout Israel and the world to deal with the fire, and since has done everything to care for the families who lost their loved ones: His Honor, Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benyamin Netanyahu.
A bit too much like North Korea and too much for Israel.
We may have our syncophants in the Prime Minister's Office who admitted to writing the introduction, but not in the media.
The news reader introduced the item with a comment about raised eyebrows. Then she replayed a clip of the introduction. Her colleague said that the words about the Prime Minister may have been accurate, but the music was unbecoming. Channel Two's internet site headlines the story, "Who arranged once again the praise of Netanyahu?" and "Who is responsible for the unrestrained praise of the Prime Minister?"
The introduction remained an item in the news as I wrote this note the next morning. For those wanting to test their Hebrew or feel the music, click on http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics/Article-3e5573ad5875431017.htm&sCh=31750a2610f26110&pId=55227376
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Posted by Ira Sharkansky at December 19, 2011 10:22 PM